sometimes i hold onto the air
- часам я трымаюся за паветра
Belarusian Artists in Exile
In 2020, massive civil protests erupted in Belarus, a country between Russia and Poland that was barely on the radar for the West at the time. Directed against the rigged elections and repressive policies of the corrupt head of state, the protests became a cry for freedom and an expression of the desire to live in a democratic nation. Artists and cultural workers were deeply involved in the protests; many were arrested and imprisoned. When released, they fled to Vilnius, Warsaw, Tbilisi, and Berlin to escape further punishment. They had hoped to return soon, but weeks of waiting became months, and months have become years. They have since remained in a state of limbo between two worlds — determined to contribute to change in their homeland while not being physically present and living in a country where their existence is not officially recognised.
sometimes i hold onto the air is an exhibition in which young Belarusian artists in exile reflect on the protests that radically transformed their lives and the years that followed. Their art works deal with the repression in their home country and the fear of constant surveillance that is incessant even in exile. They explore the plight of not belonging and the endless loops of state bureaucracy that they face while abroad. The exhibition seeks to give expression to the personal experience of artists in exile today, which is by no means a uniquely Belarusian issue.
The title of the exhibition is from a poem by Belarusian poet Volha Hapayeva, who is also currently living in exile in Germany. In her essay, Die Verteidigung der Poesie in Zeiten dauernden Exils (In Defence of Poetry in Times of Permanent Exile) she invokes poetry and art as a means for free thought and resistance against the bureaucratic language of states and dictatorial violence.
The exhibition is a cooperative project by Galerie im Körnerpark, Prater Galerie, and the Goethe Institute in Exil.
Curated by Katharina von Hagenow, Uladzimir Hramovich, and Paulina Olszewska
With poetry by Volha Hapeyeva